A/N. I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving! Thanks for all of your support throughout this story. Here is the last chapter! Next up is 'Head On Collision'! Whoo-hoo! I don't own anything.
"No one sits with him, he doesn't fit in, but we feel like we do when we make fun of him. 'Cause you want to belong, do you go along, 'cause his pain is the price paid for you to belong? It's not like you hate him or want him to die, but maybe he goes home and thinks suicide, or he comes back to school with a gun at his side. Any kindness from you might have saved his life. Heroes are made when you make a choice." - 'Hero' by Superchick.
"James, are you almost ready?"
James stared at his reflection in the bathroom mirror. His hair was neatly combed but nowhere near the state he used to have it in. He was dressed in a simple T-shirt and jeans. Was he ready? No. But not because he wasn't combed and dressed to perfection. Still, James sighed and opened the door, jumping slightly when he saw that all three of his best friends were waiting for him.
Logan looked him over in concern before speaking again. "It'll be okay, James." He spoke with such genuine confidence that it was impossible for James not to believe him and relax a little.
"Yeah, I'm ready." James nodded. "Just let me grab my jacket." He entered his room and pulled the lightweight rain jacket from the back of his desk chair and returned to his friends. "It's still raining, right?" When they had woken up earlier that morning, a light mist had been falling.
"It's raining even harder now." Carlos pointed to the window where the fall of rain had indeed increased to a steady downpour.
"Are you boys sure you want to do this?" Mrs. Knight walked up to them, concern written all over her motherly face. "You know things didn't go so well the first time."
Despite the fact that he was slightly embarrassed by the memory of his breakdown, James appreciated how blunt Kendall's mother was with the situation. He nodded along with his friends. "We're sure." He couldn't explain why he felt so completely calm all of the sudden. The situation should have terrified him. Maybe it was the fact that Logan looked more confident than he had in weeks. His demeanor, so much like the old Logan, seemed to have a calming effect on the rest of them.
Mrs. Knight nodded, a mixture of pride and uncertainty on her face. "All right then. Call me if you need me though. The home school thing was going really well, remember?"
Again, all four boys nodded. "Thanks, Mom." Kendall leaned forward and kissed her on the cheek. "We'll call around lunch time just to check in with you, okay?"
James smiled at his older friend's statement. Typical Kendall behavior, making sure everyone was as happy as possible. He pulled his rain jacket on and lifted the hood over his head. "Okay. It's not getting any drier out there and we'll miss the bus if we don't hurry."
"James is right." Logan swung his backpack over one shoulder and nodded. "We'd better head out." He turned to say goodbye to Mrs. Knight but was caught up in a hug and couldn't stop the wide smile the spread across his face. "See you, Mom."
His words caught even himself off guard and stopped everyone else in their tracks. He felt his cheeks redden at the attention but no one seemed to notice his embarrassment, or if they did, they didn't care. But he didn't even want to take the words back. Mrs. Knight was his mother, both officially and unofficially if that even made sense. Still, their leaving was delayed a little bit more when he was embraced once again, this time even more so.
"Logan, you have no idea how much it means to me to hear you say that." She whispered in his ear as a few tears ran down her face.
Logan had to blink away his own tears and it was a little difficult to do. But he cleared his throat and smiled again. "Well, it's true." He said softly. Then he pulled gently away and after hesitating briefly, mimicked Kendall's action and dropped a quick kiss on his adoptive mother's cheek. "Thanks for everything."
The boys left the apartment, quietly and out into the lobby where they paused to make sure their rain jackets were secure. Logan dropped his backpack to the floor and winced slightly as he straightened up. Before he could explain, Carlos spoke.
"It's your shoulder, isn't it?" He asked sadly.
Logan nodded because there was no use in denying what they already knew. "My backpack is a little heavy." He said lamely. "I mean, it's getting better every day and it doesn't hurt as much but-" He stopped when Kendall bent down and grasped the heavy pack in one hand and lifted it easily. "Kendall, don't-"
"Let me help you, Logan." Kendall interrupted. "Let us help you until you can do it without hurting you." He grinned when Logan still looked unsure. "Besides, what are big brothers for?" He had meant the question to be light but his voice shook slightly with emotion.
It worked though. Logan nodded gratefully. "Thanks, guys." He wasn't just thanking them for their help that particular day and they all knew it.
Carlos wrapped an arm gently across Logan's shoulders. "Let's go." He said cheerfully. The rain outside and the fact that they were returning to school to give it yet another try couldn't bring him down from his state of happiness and contentment. He had his friends back.
Kendall's confidence had returned and he was once again their leader, ready to protect them when needed, but also willing to back off and let them handle certain things on their own. James stopped looking over his shoulder whenever they were in public, the fear gone from his face. And even though Logan was still seeing Steve, the sessions had decreased from three times a week to once a week and it was obvious that he was getting better everyday. Carlos' infectious good humor had come back and he could relax now that everything was getting better. They could be happy again.
"I hate rain." James complained as they stood out on the street corner. He cringed and pulled his hood lower.
Logan laughed. "I can only imagine what it's doing to your hair right now." He said with a straight face.
"Don't remind me." James groaned but he grinned when Logan laughed again. "Oh well." He said good-naturedly. "I can always wash it when we get home today."
Just then the bus pulled up and Logan could hold back a sigh. "I hate the bus."
"We know." James and Kendall and Carlos said at the same time. "But we don't blame you." Carlos added as he followed his friends up the small set of steps into the bus.
The last time they had returned to school, Mrs. Knight had driven them. This time they were going all-out and doing everything they way they used to. So they couldn't help but be surprised when the full bus was completely silent. A handful of kids greeted the boys quietly and talked amongst themselves but for the most part, the ride to school was done in nearly complete silence. The jocks kept to themselves and didn't even look the way of the kids who used to be bullied. Everyone else stared out the window and waited for the ride to be over.
The silence let up a little bit when they pulled up to the school and walked into the crowd of students. Kendall, James, and Carlos walked Logan to his locker and helped him place his books inside before forcing themselves away. Logan watched them leave until they were out of sight then turned his attention to extracting his Science textbook from the bottom of the locker where it ended up thanks to his helpful friends. He rolled his eyes but laughed and after double checking to make sure his locker was properly locked, he left for class.
"So?" Logan prompted when he and James were seated at an empty table in the lunchroom. "How did the morning go?"
James' eyes wandered around the room before he answered. "Okay, I guess. But you know, the first day we came back went fine too until I had study hall." He shivered at the thought. "That's where I go after here today."
"Gee, what a coincidence." Logan said lightly. "So do I."
His words caught James' attention and he stared at Logan in disbelief. "What did you say?"
Logan grinned. "I said that I have study hall after lunch today too."
"But. . .how?"
"I talked with the principal a couple of days ago. I was able to get us all the same study hall. Granted, it's the last one I'd pick but at least we'll be together."
"All of us?" James felt like a parrot repeating whatever Logan said. Either a parrot or someone hard of hearing.
Logan nodded. "Carlos and Kendall are going to be with us too. We won't have to be alone."
As wonderful as the news was, James still couldn't fully process it. "Really?"
"Yes." Logan said simply. "Really. I thought it might make things a little easier."
"But what about your classes?" James asked.
"We just switched things around a little bit. It really wasn't that hard." Logan smiled when James' face finally lit up with realization. "So do you believe me now?"
James stammered for a proper response. "I. . of course I believe you. I always believed you. It just. . .wow." He shook his head, feeling an overwhelming sense of relief wash over him. "Thanks, Logan."
At first Logan didn't answer. He suddenly seemed to be lost in thought. Then when James repeated his name he jerked back to the present. "Anytime, man." He smiled but he still seemed distracted.
James frowned at the sudden change in his friend's demeanor. "Is everything okay, Logie?"
The nickname worked like it always did. Logan smiled and nodded. "Yeah. Everything's fine, James."
Before James could finish asking his question, Logan grabbed his lunch tray and stood up, motioning for James to do the same. "Come on. We're moving."
Instead of questioning, his friend's actions, James followed him obediently to a table that was nearly empty. There was only one kid there, a small, geeky looking junior. He looked up when James and Logan approached. "Hey." He said shyly.
"Hi." Logan greeted him. "I'm Logan Mitchell." He gestured to James. "This is my friend, James Diamond."
"I'm Jordan Andrews." He shut the calculus book in front of him. "You're from Big Time Rush, right? My little sister Maddie is a big fan."
"How old is Maddie?" James asked.
A smile did away with the remaining tension in Jordan's face. "She's nine." He nodded to Logan. "You're her favorite. She's been battling with leukemia since she was seven and when you were sick last year it gave her something to identify with."
Logan swallowed the lump in his throat. "I'm really sorry, Jordan." He said softly. "It's really hard."
James nodded in agreement but he couldn't speak. He was amazed at how connected he suddenly felt with a kid he had never spoken to and he regretted never even taking notice of Jordan until today. How many kids were like, Jordan, either bullied or ignored until something happened? Until they snapped and either tried to take revenge or gave up on their own lives? Because so many others sat by and watched while these kids were bullied because they didn't want to get involved themselves. Because didn't want to bother with the kids that no one else talked to. But if they didn't talk to them then who would? If they didn't reach out then who would?
James snapped out of his deep inner thoughts and smiled apologetically when he saw Logan and Jordan staring at him. "What's up?" He asked causally.
"I was just telling Jordan that he should bring Maddie by the Palm Woods one of these days and we could show her around."
"That's a great idea, Logan." James said, suddenly enthusiastic by the idea. "We'd love to meet her."
Jordan grinned back. "She'd love to meet you guys. You're her heroes."
"Sounds like a plan then." Logan took the pen that was resting on top of Jordan's textbook and wrote something down on his clean napkin. "Here's my cell phone number. Give us a call when she's feeling up to it."
The ball rang and all three boys jumped. Jordan carefully folded the napkin and slid it in the pages of his book. "Thanks." He said gratefully. "It was nice meeting you. I have to get to study hall now."
"You have study hall?" James asked.
Jordan nodded but didn't speak.
"We have study hall too." James mentally kicked himself for never noticing Jordan before. "Why don't you come with us? You can meet Carlos and Kendall then too."
"Really?" Jordan asked hopefully.
"Of course." Logan exchanged grins with James. "Let's go."
The walk to the study hall room was quiet, each boy lost in his own thoughts. James' steps slowed slightly as they got closer but Logan and even Jordan never stopped once so he kept going. He relaxed a little when he saw that Kendall and Carlos were already waiting for them with another boy at their table.
"Hey, guys!" Carlos greeted them eagerly. "This is Mike Roberts. Kendall and I met him in our English class."
Mike pushed a thick pair of glasses further up his nose only to have them slide back down. He smiled at James and Logan and Jordan. "Hi."
"Hi, Mike." Logan grinned at Kendall and Carlos. "While we're still in the middle of introductions, this is our new friend, Jordan Andrews."
The six boys settled into a quiet conversation until the teacher entered. Then they fell into silence as they concentrated on their school work. James smiled as Logan helped him from on side and Jordan helped him from the other side. He could see that Mike was multitasking and helping both Carlos and Kendall. This hasn't been a bad day at all. He thought to himself. He had his old friends back and he had even made new friends. Everything was right.
A/N. The end of another story! Whoo-hoo! Wow. So thank you once again for all of the support while I was writing this story. I hope you all enjoyed reading it and more than that, I hope you can take something from it because in the end, it's more than a story. Thanks again! 'Head On Collision' will be posted by December 1st. Until then, carpe diem!